You see it every single day as a blogger. Everywhere you look - you must be on social media. You must do this, you must do that. You know what this ends up becoming? Digital clutter.
After our conversation about unfollowing lots of blogs because they've become the same, I found that a lot of you were in a similar position. You were all fist pumping the air because I was saying what you all were feeling.
I've been having chats with friends online in the community about the issue of digital clutter. It's been eye opening. One person I really admire online, Kory, actually tweeted a link to an article the other day saying she was really considering doing what the writer was discussing: unfollowing everyone on the internet.
It might seem extreme, to completely take that part of your online presence away. But the question you have to ask yourself is whether this is all affecting your online presence in a good or bad way?
Our full inboxes and full feeds can usually make us feel only one thing - that we have to do something or buy something. Everyone is creating the latest course ready for us to buy. Everyone wants us to sign up to their mailing list.
Here's the thing. If we all start creating the same things, the comparison trap gets even easier to fall into. But that's not what social media should be about. Today, I want to chat with you about this and see if we can get back to the roots of social media.
When you first signed up for Twitter, why did you join it? Community and conversation. You got to be a part of something and you got to talk to real, like-minded people. People who were interested in the same things as you. People who had the same views as you. It was a way of seeing everyone on a real level.
Then brands and businesses cottoned on, and soon enough, everyone was on it. People started to see that actually, you can make sales through social media. You can actually promote yourself a lot on these platforms.
That's when everything changed.
My goal on social media, ever since I started blogging two years ago, is still the same as it was then - to make conversation. When I started, I used to take part in as many Twitter chats as I could and I commented on almost every blog post I read. Never was there a goal that involved me doing certain things to raise followers, work with huge companies or raise money.
Sometime over these last few years though, it's all changed. Now, you hardly see a comment on a blog that doesn't include a self-promotional link, and you can’t take part in a Twitter chat without someone promoting their latest blog post half way through it. We're all constantly surrounded by it - by clutter.
Our communities are the core of our online presence. Without them, we'd be nothing. But lately, instead of nurturing my community, I've felt as if I'm talking at them. Connections haven't been growing stronger. They've not been growing at all.
Do you want someone to hit the follow button because you give them tip after tip that they can improve on?
Or do you want them to hit the follow button because they know they can always have a good conversation with you?
That's something to think about.
Once you realise that clutter is taking over one part of your online presence, you realise it’s actually taking over all of it. And somewhere down the line, you realise that all this noise is affecting you and your voice. You get so caught up with what everyone else is doing that you end up doing the same. You get caught up with what doesn’t matter.
It’s so great that we get to connect with people in this way. The fact we can build blogs and businesses from one idea, and even meet like-minded people online, is brilliant. It’s a way for us to define our own path.
But the digital clutter is the one thing that gets in the way.
Social media is about connecting with people. That’s why it was invented. But lately, it’s just become a place to track an amount of followers. It’s made us become more bothered about numbers rather than real conversations. So much so, that people just do things for the sake of it, leading you to sign up to endless newsletters and have an inbox with more than 100 unread emails.
Ultimately, you have power over your online presence. This is something I’ve realised that has made a huge difference to how I see myself online. Lately, I’ve been making an effort to completely get rid of online clutter (especially on social media) and refresh the way I use these platforms to help build my online presence.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the digital clutter in your life, here are some ways you can make a change or two.
- Unsubscribe from all the emails you don’t read – and don’t feel guilty about it. If you notice in your inbox that you’ve got loads of unread emails from the same address, unsubscribe from them.
- Redefine your Twitter lists. For me, I bookmark the blogs I want to read and use Bloglovin’. I also love finding new links to blog posts on Twitter. But I don’t only want this from the people I follow. If you’ve got people in your Twitter lists that only share links to their own content, unfollow them immediately. That’s not what you want. And if you don’t have Twitter lists – start them. They definitely helps you only keep track of who you actually want to talk to.
- Don’t join all the Facebook groups and all the group Pinterest boards. Soon enough, everyone will have one. Choose the ones that are right for you. If you join too many you’ll feel too pressured to keep up with them all. So much so that your own content will suffer.
- Don’t feel guilty for not following someone. When someone follows me do you think I always follow them back? Nope. I read their bio, check out their tweets and if I’m interested, I hit follow. If not, I don’t. Simple. If you let the guilt take over, you’ll become so full of clutter that you’ll completely lose yourself. If you’re not connecting with them, or aren’t a fan of their new direction, you don’t have to feel bad about unfollowing or unsubscribing. It’s OK.
You know what the main problem is though, don’t you? FOMO. The Fear Of Missing Out. I’ve got to try this latest online course. I’ve got to try this latest Pinterest trick. I’ve got to do video because everyone else is.
No, you don’t.
Do you want comparison to lead to jealousy to lead to unhappiness? Because that’s what FOMO will do. Step away and ask yourself if these people are really who you want to connect with.
So here’s to ditching the digital clutter. Here’s to using social media to build conversation and community. Here’s to not feeling guilty. Here’s for having fun. Ask questions, respond and use social media naturally more often than posting links.
Of course, still use social platforms in this way – I definitely wouldn't tell you otherwise. But don’t let all the noise affect the direction you want to take your online presence in. It’s unique. And so are you.
That’s the foundation of what you’ve built.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the clutter on social media? What are you trying to do to change that?